The Stats Don't Lie

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

Tracey Nelson: Week seven preview

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Piri Weepu. Photo / Getty Images.
Piri Weepu. Photo / Getty Images.

The Blues play in Melbourne for the first time, while on the other side of Australia the Chiefs take on the Force. The Hurricanes and Highlanders are hosting visitors from South Africa, while the Crusaders meet their old foes the Bulls in Pretoria.

REBELS v BLUES

These two sides have met just the once, with the Blues comfortable winners 40-23 in Albany last year.

The Rebels are the current wooden spooners of the competition have score just 93 points in five games, and they are conceding an average of 30 points per game.

The Blues aren't far behind them having scored just ten more points than the Rebels, but conceding a slightly lower average of just under 25 points per game.

Watch the match up between James O'Connor and Ma'a Nonu. O'Connor has broken twelve tackles this season and made three linebreaks, while Nonu has broken seven tackles and made two linebreaks.

The Blues have conceded the fewest penalties of all the New Zealand teams, with just 43 to date.


HURRICANES v SHARKS

Of the sixteen matches played between these two sides the Sharks have won nine, the Hurricanes six, and there has been one draw. Last year the Harks won 40-24 in Durban.

The Hurricanes have not managed to beat the Sharks since 2006, when they won 23-17 in Wellington.

Beauden Barrett is the second highest points scorer in the compeition on 86 points, and last week landed 78 percent of his kicks for goal.

Andre Taylor is the top linebreaker in the competition with seven to date, and is second equal in the try scoring stakes with four.

The Hurricanes have conceded the most penalties of any of the New Zealand sides, having conceded a total of seventy in the six games they have played.


HIGHLANDERS v STORMERS

These two sides have played sixteen times with the Highlanders having won nine of those encounters, plus there has been one draw. Last year the Stormers won 18-6 at Newlands.

Stormers have won their last four games and are top of the competition ladder as the only unbeaten side in the competition. They are also extremely good tourists, having won three of their last four games played in New Zealand.

The Stormers may be leading the competition, but they are not doing it in any great style having scored just eight tries this season. The Highlanders, by comparison, have scored seventeen tries - averaging more than twice as many per game than their opposition.

The Highlanders won 100 percent of their lineouts last week, but what are their chances this week up against the Stormers' giant lock Andries Bekker?

Should Jimmy Cowan take the field this weekend he will become just the second player to make 100 appearances for the Highlanders, following Anton Oliver. Another making the record books is hooker Jason Rutledge, who will play his 50th game for the Highlanders.


CHIEFS v FORCE

Of the five games played between the two the Chiefs have won four. The last time the two sides met in Perth (2010) the Chiefs won 37-19.

The Chiefs made just six handling errors last week, and will be hoping the warm conditions in Perth continue that trend for them.

Watch for Brodie Retallick who made seventeen tackles last week and has made a total of eighty so far this season. His team mates Carl Lowe and Liam Messam were also key in the Chiefs' defensive efforts last week, making nineteen and sixteen tackles respectivley.

What odds for Sona Taumololo to score another try this week, having scored four tries in five games this season.

This will be the Chiefs' 200th Super Rugby match.


BULLS v CRUSADERS

There have been no less than twenty games played between these two sides, including four semi-finals. The Crusaders have won twelve of those twenty games, and last year beat the Bulls convincingly 27-0 in Timaru.

Dan Carter returns to kicking duties for the Crusaders this week, and leads the all-time Super points scoring with a total of 1272 points. Those points are made up of 29 tries, 208 conversions, 229 penalties and 8 drop goals.

The Bulls have scored nineteen tries so far this season, while the Crusaders have struggled to cross the line and have scored just eight in five games.

Watch the battle of the two fullbacks with Zane Kirchner (three tries, three linebreaks) up against Israel Dagg (two tries, six linebreaks). Both players have scored a career total of seventeen Super tries, but Dagg has done it in nineteen fewer games than Kirchner.

The Crusaders have the best record of any side touring the Republic having won six of their last eight games on South African soil.

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